Sugar is a simple carbohydrate that provides energy to our body, only if we consume it in the correct proportion. Otherwise it can be harmful for our health. Is your sugar intake right?
Sugar in our diet is found in two forms.
Natural sugar is found naturally in whole, unprocessed food, like fruits, vegetables, grains, and dairy products. It is further subdivided into Fructose and Lactose. The earlier is a natural sugar found in fruits, whereas the latter is a natural sugar found in dairy products.
Added sugar is largely found in processed foods and the additional sugar that we add to our food. It has no nutritional value. Extra consumption of added sugar can increase your risk of many diseases like tooth decay, obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer.
Due to its harmful effects on health, people are trying to control their sugar intake, but it is tricky to rightly estimate how much added sugar you consume.
One major reason that makes it difficult is that, there are food products available in the market that have hidden sugar in them.
Sources of Added sugar in the diet.
According to studies, the researchers recommend that women should limit the consumption of added sugar to 100 calories per day or 5 teaspoons (25gms), while men should stick to 150 calories per day or 7 teaspoons (35gms).
Therefore, it is important to know the source of added sugar, as it may form a part of your diet and harm your health.
Here is a list of 9 sugary food that contain added sugar, and you should be aware of these products and minimize their consumption.
Low-Fat Yogurt: Yogurts are generally considered to be a healthy food option. However, low-fat yogurts available in markets contain added sugar used to enhance their flavour. While choosing yogurt, you should prefer the ones with the least added sugar and yogurts without fruit, as you can control the sugar limit by adding fruits of your choice.
Barbecue and Spaghetti sauce: Barbecue sauce can make our food tastier, but the amount of added sugar it has can make the same food harmful to us. A bottle of barbecue sauce may contain 30% pure sugar. Similarly, spaghetti sauce also contains added sugar, used to increase its shelf life and taste. The best way to ensure low consumption of added sugar is to make your own sauce at home.
Ketchup: Ketchup is one of the most commonly used condiments globally but is loaded with added sugar. A single tablespoon of ketchup contains around one teaspoon of sugar. You should therefore be mindful of your portion size while consuming ketchup.
Fruit Juice & Energy Drinks: Drinks available in the market may seem better than other carbonated drinks. However, even fruit juice and energy drinks are full of added sugar. Ensure you do not consume more of these to limit your sugar intake. You must prefer a whole fruit to these drinks.
Granola & Protein Bars: The main ingredient in granola is oats. In these bars, the oats are combined with honey and nuts by adding artificial sweeteners, which reduces the nutritional value of these products. If you like to snack on granola or protein bars, you must try choosing one with least sugar content or should try making these at home.
Pre-made Soups: Generally, soup is a food type that we would never associate with sugar. But soup mixes available in the market are indeed full of added sugar, which enhances the taste and shelf life of these products. It is, therefore, safe to make your soup at home as you can control the sugar and add more vegetables, thereby increasing the nutritional value of the food.
Breakfast Cereals: These may seem to be an easier and healthier breakfast option. But they contain large amounts of added sugar, reducing their nutritional value. Hence, you must avoid such food and have home-made food as your breakfast.
Canned Fruits: Canned fruits are food that may seem healthy but have zero nutritional value. You may wonder how can fruits not be nutritional. Canned fruits are loaded with added sugar and preservatives, so they are not good for health. Prefer consuming fresh fruits rather than canned fruits.
Canned Baked Beans: Beans are generally good for health, but canned baked beans available in the market have high levels of added sugar. If you like baked beans, you must prefer the ones with low added sugar.
Limit the added sugar in your food:
To restrict your sugar intake, you must eat mindfully. Try to limit or minimize food intake with added sugar.
Choose foods with good nutritional value, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains for meals and snacks, and lean proteins
Instead of having canned food and pre-mix food, prepare fresh meals at home
Try to use a plant-based sugar substitute like stevia when you make your own dessert
Cut on dairy desserts like ice creams, baked goods, and candy
Prefer water over sugary drinks when thirsty
Avoid consuming processed foods as they are high in sodium and added sugar
In addition to the above, you can control your sugar intake by buying foods carefully. Read the nutrition fact label of the products thoroughly, and choose products with the least added sugar.
Generally, foods with less than 5% added sugar are considered a good choice. Whereas foods with more than 20% added sugar should be avoided.
The nutrition facts label shows in detail the ingredients that the food contains. Added sugar can be mentioned in many other ways, such as brown sugar, honey, fruit juice concentrates, fructose, glucose, and sucrose.
You must ensure you consume less added sugar for a healthier life. You must have a balanced diet full of nutrition to keep yourself healthy, you can consult a nutritionist for a tailor made diet that suits you.
Monitoring blood sugar levels at periodic intervals can help you identify any abnormality in blood sugar level and thus help in correcting the same.